http://www.santamariatimes.com/articles ... c/6790.txt
Commentary: Facing reality as closing arguments begin
Agitation flashed on Michael Jackson's face as he left the courthouse Wednesday.
Even the predictable little courtesy bow he offers with his palms pressed together couldn't mask the look that Jackson flashed as he headed home after a tough day.
Judge Rodney Melville had just spent about 90 minutes reading the jury the required legal instructions they need to decide the outcome of Jackson's child-molestation trial.
Listening to the details of those horrid allegations upset Jackson, publicist Raymone Bain told the press after court.
The facts of the case upset me, too.
But I'm not the guy facing prison.
And I wondered as I watched the jurors Wednesday if anybody in the 46-year-old celebrity's family or inner circle cares enough about his mental state to have spoken with him about prison.
Doing time is really something to get anxious about.
So I asked Bain at her press conference if anybody has talked with Jackson about the very real possibility that he might one day soon go to jail.
If convicted on any of the charges against him, Jackson's $3 million bail could be revoked and he could be immediately remanded to custody. Deputies would approach Jackson at the defense table, handcuff him and take him away.
Bain seemed perturbed by the question.
Of course nobody has talked to Jackson about doing time, she said.
"He's a grown man," she snapped.
Nobody has to sit down with him and tell him about the realities of the world.
If nobody has, somebody better.
Jackson is no tough guy.
Even real hard men and women who have never been to prison need to know what they face when the cell doors slam and their worlds turn upside down. If the state ever puts Jackson away, his life will change drastically from what he has known for most of his life.
I don't know if Jackson or Bain has ever set foot inside a county or state prison.
I do know that it's tough inside.
A long time ago I worked with violent, long-term offenders in a state penitentiary. During those three years, I listened to men cry for help and scream in the darkness like the hysterical captives they were.
I pulled them apart when they attacked each other.
And I watched them break when they confessed their crimes - grisly acts of mutilation, death and destruction.
One man never quite got over being raped in prison by several assailants.
Another man hanged himself on J-Block but the guards cut down his teenage corpse before I got to work.
Some of those long days and nights inside will stay with me forever.
I still remember the feel of the gun and hollow points I bought and carried after some ex-cons told me that an escaped inmate had threatened to get me.
Still, I like some of the guys I knew behind bars.
Some of them never would have wound up there had somebody interceded and helped them along the way. Alcohol and drugs played a big part in many of the crimes the men committed that sent them to prison.
Mental illness also figured into the lives of many men who wound up inside.
Instability helps sometimes, though.
Some of the more predatory inmates kept their distance from a pretty young man who regularly screamed and spit in the shower in a crazed battle to keep the demons away.
Jackson needs to know the madness that might await. Talking about prison is the least that those who claim to love him can do for him as closing arguments begin today.
Of course, staying positive has its merits. But facing reality is something people should have recommended to Jackson a long time ago.
Still, jurors might rule in Jackson's favor.
Before court Wednesday, former Jackson manager Frank Dileo stood in the back parking lot waiting for the Jackson family to arrive. Chewing gum and wearing dark shades, Dileo checked his big gold watch and adjusted the gold bracelet on his other wrist.
"All by your lonesome," I said.
"Not for long," he said.
So what do you think, Frank?
"It's a beautiful sunshiny day," he said, with the slick tone of a guy not used to being quoted unless he wants to be quoted.
OK, let's be positive. Maybe this will all work out, I said. Maybe Jackson will walk away from all charges, victorious, free and vindicated. Then what? Maybe a real victory tour?
"We have no plans," Dileo said.
That's probably wise.
Especially if Jackson winds up in the joint.